Show Review: Lady Gaga 20.08.14

Published on theMusic.com.au on 21.08.14

Lady Gaga  "artRave: The Artpop Ball" Tour - Perth

The Gaga themed attire shuffling around the CBD and into Perth Arena for the first leg of Lady Gaga’s artRAVE tour alone was worthy of the ticket price.

The theatrics continued inside, with a landscape like stage protruding out and consuming most of the standing area. Its colourful and animated layout was dubbed Roseland, and support DJ Lady Starlight was in the middle of the epic production, welcoming punters in with an unrelenting beat and interesting stage presence, throwing out dance moves that rivalled that of a tranquilised maniac.

A mammoth satin-like curtain dropped to reveal the rest of Roseland, and a handful of dances – wearing what appeared to be diapers flown in from outter space – led opener Artpop, before Lady Gaga marched out dressed like a furry angel.

At the song’s end she screamed with aggression for punters to get out of their seats and rave. “There’s no fucking around tonight. I’ve been gone for two fucking years,” she bellowed with a threatening snarl.

A costume change two songs in reinforced the all-or-nothing mentality of pop superstar, and let her band and dancers parade around to a piercing kick drum whilst she prepared for the oddly themed Venus – another single off 2013’s Artpop, a record that’s end game was to create the “ultimate art ball”. All three of Gaga’s records have shown little consistency in their themes, and single Venus was introduced with a disclaimer to those against her latest “artsy” direction. “Get a drunk or glow sticks or get the fuck out,” she yelled.

Older hits such as Poker Face didn’t have as big a production, but held up on their own merit – and a keytar in Just Dance was spectacle enough. An abrupt and aggressive plea to the audience to put their “fucking phones away” for 20 minutes rendered a chance for punters to be consumed by a manic light show with lazers and confetti darting about the arena.

Behind all the theatrics and army of interestingly dressed dances, Gaga’s songwriting and performance ability held everything together, as evident with a solo piano rendition of Dope, and Born This Way, accompanied by a message to open the discussion on metal health issues.

She pointed out legendary rock band Queen, who were hiding at the sound desk, and in town to perform at the Arena a couple of nights later. The rock icons were swamped by camera flashes, before Gaga and her band regrouped to kick things back into gear. The most notable point in the set came when Gaga changed costumes onstage (that involved getting topless with her back to the crowd) for Bad Romance. Much like the excessive glitter used throughout the evening, the memory of artRAVE won’t go away anytime soon.

http://themusic.com.au/music/livereviews/2014/08/21/lady-gaga-perth-arena-daniel-cribb/

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INTERVIEW: Kristian Nairn (Hodor from Game Of Thrones)

Published in The Music (WA, NSW, QLD, VIC) and theMusic.com.au, Aug 2014

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Game Of Thrones star Kristian Nairn, aka Hodor, is stuck in a weird limbo, fighting to prove his worth among the acting and music industries. Avoiding one-word answers, Daniel Cribb finds out what everyone’s raving about.

Long before Northern Irish-born Kristian Nairn graced our screens as the good-hearted simpleton Hodor with a one-word vocabulary, he was a DJ. In fact, 13 years ago Nairn spent a few months in Melbourne where he did sets around town to small crowds in various clubs. “Ah yes, it was 2001 I was there,” Nairn recalls. “2001 doesn’t seem like 13 years ago to me, but that’s showing my age. One of my best friends lives in Melbourne and I went to visit her and I ended up DJing down there for a while, so that was fun.”

A lot’s changed since those low-key DJ sets around Melbourne, and the last time Nairn was in town was for Oz Comic-Con in July, meeting masses of Game Of Thrones fans. Back at home in Belfast for a few weeks before heading back to Australia for a run of DJ shows, you’d imagine he’d have at least a few days’ rest. “Hell no,” Nairn laughs. “I mean, I don’t really know what that word means. I’ve just come back from a music festival in Portsmouth, England, called Mutiny In The Park. I was DJing there last night, um no, the night before. Saturday night… I can’t even remember,” he laughs.

“To be honest, I just got out of bed. We have shit reception at my house so I’ve had to drive two miles up to the nearest park, so I’m sitting here watching people cycle and jogging. It’s a bit strange and surreal, really.”

That may be strange, but still easier for Nairn to comprehend than the rise to fame that Game Of Thrones provided – a role that he never imagine he’d score. It wasn’t until 2010 that a then 34-year-old Nairn was cast in the hit show and was thrown into cult status. “It’s amazing to me that the show has become so big that you can actually get on a plane for 27 hours and get off and still get recognised. That to me is mind-blowing.”

And while the character of Hodor only ever says his own name, it’s far from an easy role. “It can be challenging. In scenes where it’s really obvious what’s happening it’s kind of easy because you get lost in the moment but there’s a lot of quiet, subtle things and you don’t have the words to convey how you’re supposed to be feeling. You have to be in the moment, very much. You can’t really pre-plan – well obviously you can a little – but you have to react naturally. It’s all about being natural. It’d be very easy to overact so you have to be on point. You have to be natural and real.”

Although Nairn’s vocabulary is more comprehensive than that of his onscreen persona, certain elements between the two don’t ring too far away from the true. “I was quite a shy teenager,” he tells. “I think I liked to communicate through music. I think that’s why DJing came naturally because you sort of want people to feel what you feel. You’re sort of putting down what you feel. You’re choosing tracks and you create a mood. I think that’s why it came naturally to me.”

The connection between his music and acting crossed over almost seamlessly. “People don’t get that but you hit the nail on the head. It’s exactly the same thing; acting’s just a different vessel. You try and portray an emotion, you want people to feel something and it’s exactly the same thing.”

The acting-related fame also thrust his music career into the spotlight, which, for the most part, has been positive. But, when the show first took off, he stumbled into some sceptics who didn’t bridge that connection. “When I first got cast as Hodor, a lot of people looked into my background and were like, ‘He’s a DJ, he’s not going to be able to act,’ so I had to prove myself in that respect, and people who didn’t know I was a DJ, when this DJ tour was announced, they were like, ‘What the hell? I hate these actors who think they’re DJs, and I’m like, ‘Really?! I have to prove myself all over again?’ I was like, ‘Guys, I’ve been doing this most of my life,’ but I feel like I’m constantly have to prove myself to naysayers.”

Naysayer or supporter, fans of the show are aching for Season Five. Currently being filmed, Nairn is awaiting the call to fly to location to begin working on his scenes. He hasn’t read the script yet, but no doubt plenty of death will be on offer. “Melisandre, who’s with Stannis Baratheon, I want rid of her. I think she’s a bad influence on him,” he laughs. “But [she’s] also a great character. That’s a shame about the characters; the ones you hate are often – well Joffrey for instance – the ones you hate the most are often awesome characters… I’m sure there’s definitely a few shocks left in store.”

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2014/08/20/kristian-nairn-game-of-thrones-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Kate Miller-Heidke 01.08.14

Published in The Music (WA) | 06.08.14 | Issue # 50

Lush vocals and a humble, friendly aesthetic saw an acoustic folk explosion in UK’s Ryan Keen. Bass triggered by foot pedals and beats created by frantic hand movements carefully striking the body of his guitar made for a fine appetiser. If his next Australian single and set closer Focus incites the nation to do exact that, Keen will return to headline venues of the same size in no time.

In typical Kate Miller-Heidke fashion, the stage design resembled a scene from a warped children’s fairytale; pale, large hands stood in the background, jutting out from the group, with pieces of jigsaw puzzles falling from the ceiling and intertwining around them. Having played a secret show the night previous, the first official show of the tour kicked off with Bliss, a song placed as the final track of her most recent record, O Vertigo!, to summarise its predecessors. As an opener it did so much more. The spotlight was shattered and bellowing drums lit the stage to reveal her backing band for Sing To Me. It was the debut of a new band, and outfit – the latter of which made her look like an “18th century clown mixed with a shuttlecock” – and by the time Mama rolled around, with its disjointed structure and tight execution, the band had proved their worth.

Things went from old to older with 2004’s Monster, a track of her debut EP, as requested by fans leading up to the tour. An interesting a cappella verse replaced the typical Caught In The Crowd intro, but received a warm reception. Back-up vocalist and violinist Emma Dean – who played in a band with Miller-Heidke ten years ago – received an “intimate” introduction for a vocal-heavy and captivating duet of Rock This Baby To Sleep. Solo, Miller-Heidke rattled off comic number Are You Fucking Kidding Me? and kept the funnies flowing with an anecdote about googling herself while on the toilet.

The kinks of a new band on the first show of the tour surfaced with Jimmy kicking off in the wrong key and forcing a restart mid-verse, Sarah beginning with the wrong key tone and a faulty microphone hindering the start of an otherwise captivating rendition of Share Your Air, with Keen singing Passenger’s lines. Guitarist Keir Nuttall busted out a loop pedal, and with Dean by Miller-Heidke’s side on keys, Humiliation was transformed into a set highlight, erasing all recent discrepancies

The set’s most intimate and defining moment was a duo performance of In The Darkness with Nuttall, stripped back to its barebones with fragile vocals placed on top. Nuttall was given his time to shine with tongue-in-cheek hip hop parodyCompromise as his alter-ego Franky Walnut, who had appeared in Perth a month earlier in support of The Beards. Fittingly, Nuttall, keeping his hip hop vibe alive, then took on the role of WA rapper Drapht in Drama.

It wouldn’t be a Miller-Heidke gig if she didn’t bring up chronic flatulence at least once, and another anecdote about her own bad experiences was delivered as a segue into Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball featuring a verse of Everything Is Awesome from The Lego Movie. By the time closers The Last Day On Earth, Little Adam and Space They Cannot Touchrolled around, everything was indeed awesome.

http://themusic.com.au/music/livereviews/2014/08/08/kate-miller-heidke-astor-theatre-daniel-cribb/